Victor Karlovich Stember - Lost Artwork
Up until his death on January 11, 1921, Victor kept a diary of the fascinating events of life in Russia and in some instances described the models, locations, or portrait details he painted during those years. It is presumed that these paintings are still in Russia and may be located so that photographs can be taken and their images included in this collection. The family is in hopes that painting owners may see this website and contact us to confirm the existence of any of the paintings.

Afterword from Victor Stember's Memoirs written by Stember's daughter Natasha:

“Living in Moscow from 1890 to 1908, Father painted a score of brilliant portraits. In those years Moscow abounded with well-to-do citizens: Manufacturers , bankers, landowners, merchants, and other millionaires...many of them wanted their portraits painted and their homes embellished by beautiful paintings. I remember the names of some of them: Apuhtina, Karelin, Princess Shahovskaya, Dillon, Volkova, Kleist, Princess Litvinova, Michelson, Levenson, Princess Tenisheva, Feigina, Komarova, Vostriakova, Morozova, Staheeva, Tzarevich (Prince) Nicholas (future Czar), General Derfelden, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich—Governor-General of Moscow, Grand Duchess, Elizaveta Alexandrovna (Empress’ sister) in a pink dress and again in a blue dress, Emil Medtner, Nicholas Medtner, Zbrueva, Vladimirov, Grand Duchess Olga (Czar’s sister) Naumov (minister) Nicholaeva, Baranov, and probably much, much more, whose names I do not remember.”

“In 1908, Father moved with all of his family to St. Petersburg and there, during the years until the revolution, the number of portraits painted by Father were not less numerous. (I also remember some of them: the famous dancer Anna Pavlova, Olga Preobrajenskaya, another prima ballerina, Anya Kulneva, notorious Ganna Valska (McCormick), Ninochka, Uncle Do-do, Chaplin (Minister), Chaplina, Nadya (profile), Nadya (in white blouse), Nadya (full length), Youreneva, Nadya (the last), Prince Sheremetev (father), Princess Sheremetev (mother), Prince Sheremetev (son), Count Yousoupov, Count Yousoupov (son #1), Count Yousoupov (son #2), Baroness Grevenitz, Annikov, Annikova (wife), Gr. Duchess Elizaveta Mavrikievna, Ryabushinskaya, Potehina, Vishnesky. Karobchevsky, self-portrait (with a cigarette), self-portrait (in coat and hat), self-portrait (before the last one), self-portrait (last one), Shibaeva, Dimanis (husband), Dimanis (wife), Rishvov (father), Rishkova (daughter), self-portrait (now in America), - and certainly much more, of which I have not even heard....)”

Missing artwork that appears in Stember's Photography:

Photo #49
  • “The Blind Girl” (painting always hung in the children’s bedroom.)
  • “Lady in the White Cape”
  • “Stember’s wife in a white blouse”
  • “Under the Birches”
Photo #25
  • “Natalie” (age 18)
Photo #20
  • “Munich Woman”
Photo #19
  • “Actor: Vishnevetsky”

Stember's diary excerpts regarding Lost/Missing Artwork:

Dr. Nikolai Ivanovich Zabelin’s wife Antonia Nikolsevna : Plyussy, Sunday, November 17, 1918
“The model is very stylish, slender, shapely. A handsome face, a-la-Rossetti, very long neck, all plastic(?), and the pose on the portrait is not banal. She has beautiful hands; they are slender, but not thin. I am painting her wearing transparent sleeves. I would like to paint her with her arms bare. The painting is progressing fine. The Grandmother exclaimed “It’s alive!” and then burst into tears!”

Mr. Berezovsky : Petrograd, Monday, November 4, 1918
“Yesterday Berezovsky posed for me. From a factory owner he became a clerk in the service of the Soviet Power. That is really the only way out and the “Power” gladly accepts in its service knowledgeable people.”

Two landscapes : Plyussy, Wednesday, November 17, 1918
“We had a visitor for three days, the painter Kleever, the son. We went out into the park together, to paint in the freezing weather. I painted two landscapes, one with the figure of Nikolai Ivanovich (Zabulin) in his famous yellow leather jacket. An autumn landscape with a sheet of ice covering the pond. Very successful and, perhaps, more interesting than what Kleever has painted.”

Large view of the Hospital : Plyussy, Saturday, November 30, 1918
“I have just finished painting one more large view of the Hospital surrounded by great trees with the one in front broken by a storm. The picture of desolation and ruin of this once lordly mansion in the atmosphere of bareness and autumnal frost produced a very picturesque subject. To my great pleasure I am discovering in me great talent to paint sage (?) painting. And this at the age of 55!”

View from the bathroom window : Plyussy, Friday, December 13, 1918
“Here again since Tuesday, am painting a portrait of Nikolai Ivanovich, NOT ordered. I also began to paint a view from the bathroom window: a small part of the garden with a tree of many branches in the center heavily covered with snow.”

Dr. Nikolai Ivanovich Zabelin : Plyussy, Thursday, December 6, 1918
“Then arrived young Kleever. He was delighted when he saw my portrait of Nikolai Ivanovich. It is indeed excellent and very artistic: pale face, clear eyes, ironic, pensive expression, wearing the old yellow leather jacket, hands in his pockets, all against the white background of the fireplace.”

Madame Pimenova : Plyussy, Friday, December 13, 1918
“three quarters finished with her painting”

Little Girl : Strahovo, Sunday, March 30, 1919
“I marked this day by beginning to paint the head of a little girl who lives below us. I have not worked since December, i.e. three months, and again I have that familiar sensation of a burning, as if all inner effort is striving toward one point, toward this strike of a brush, this image, with the passionate desire to produce something, which through still hazy, appears at the same time vividly before the inner eyes! It is a wonderfully pleasant sensation...and then the sight and smell of colors, palette, brushes! No, indeed it is still too soon for me to leave off!”

Linden Tree Park : Plyussy, Friday, December 13, 1918
“With the advent of the month of May, this wonderful spring month that possesses the magical force to regenerate everything and all, we too feel as if aroused to new activity. I began painting a large canvas in the still- bare Linden Tree Park.”

Sephailova : Alexin, July 17, 1919
“I have opened my class in painting with one pupil, the local 'teacher of drawing'. And myself began painting the pretty blonde 'Sephailova'.”

Smirnova : Alexin, August 4, 1919
“Besides the blonde Sephailova, I am now painting also a brunette, the extremely pretty Smirnova. At the Theatre I saw, right under my nose, in the first row, a striking Jewess—a summer resident. Mama found out where she lives. I want boldly to call on her today yet.”

"Yesterday I went to the villa in which the beautiful Jewess lives. I saw her at a distance, her hair loose...As I was nearing the villa, she approached the railing of the balcony and adjusted her robe. I was already to the point of wanting to pass by, when suddenly I turned abruptly toward her. She looked at me surprised. I said: “As a matter of fact, I have come to see you” “To see me?” she replied with astonishment, “if so, enter please!” At the same time she opened wide her robe, revealing the whole breast, clear to the navel. Even the robe itself was a most transparent one. I entered and immediately obtained her consent to pose for me.”

Galya Ryshkova/Konstantin Schedrin : Alexin, September 30, 1919
“In spite of all such grim circumstances of existence, I am abandoning myself to my inner life: am carried away by sketching Galya Ryshkova, a fair, purest type of blond-a charming personality too, with INNER DEPTH. She poses willingly and I sketch willingly. I have done her head with charcoal twice already. Am sketching also Konstantin Schedrin, to her great delight. I have finished painting the pretty Smirnova and dream of painting the beautiful Zoya. She sits in a bakery shop shearing cards. “

Galya Ryshkova : Alexin October 2, 1919
“I have begun painting Galya’s portrait in color. As a matter of fact she is not beautiful, but she is devilishly interesting to paint. Am making the third portrait of her and I shall make more as many as one likes!”

“Have almost finished Galya’s head. The general opinion is that I have painted her more beautiful than she really is. But if they could only see her in that pose, that light , with that expression of her deep, dreamy and intelligent eyes, the lovely nape of her neck, her lips, chin and her marvelous shoulders. The delectable little fold on the neck, that pure coloring of a true blonde, and if at the same time they could enter into my skin, my psychology, they would say that I have portrayed her very badly and that I have imparted almost nothing of what constitutes her charm. Nadia (Stember's daughter) and I have decided—jokingly—to have Kolya (Stember's son) marry Galya.”

Commissar Ryshkov/Galya Ryshkova : Alexin, November 11, 1919
“I have begun painting a complicated portrait of Galya with her father (Commissar Ryshkov) in a very interesting combined pose. For that it was necessary to sew together two pieces of canvas, the last ones I had left... tomorrow they are coming at 11:00 for their first sitting.”

Mother of Ivan Nikolaevich Popov : Alexin, January 13, 1920
“Just now I am sitting and am waiting for the mother of Ivan Nikolaevich Popov (President of the Proletarian-Culture). She did come and we made an agreement. Today was the first sitting. The old lady is rather youthful looking with the serious face of an Old –Believer. I began drawing her and very successfully. In the compensation I received through Ivan Nikolaevich 2 loads of clover, about 35 poods, which I carried this morning straight from the market.”

Zoya Gorshkova : Alexin, January 26, 1920
“Evenings I paint the famous Zoya Gorshkova. The Schedrins are in love with her and two of them-curiously inquisitive-have already been here. To paint on a home-made canvas is very hard-it is absorbent and keeps swaying on the frame like a rag.”

Tula Paintings : Alexin, March 2, 1920
“Mrs. Shekmakova, came to tell me of a rich Tula profiteer who wants me to paint three portraits of the members of his family, to be paid by provisions and cash..For that it will be necessary for me to go to Tula. Another visit by Mr. And Mrs. Smirnov with the idea of asking me to paint a portrait of their son. Then I met Ivan Nikloevich Popov and learned from him that I have been considered for painting 2 portraits of Lenin, one for Alexin, the other for Tula. Isn’t that wonderful?”

Maria Alexeevna : Alexin, May 8, 1920
“At last I have begun painting the portrait of Maria Alexeevna, who has already made the whole payment for it in products. The portrait is interesting and I began it well...on cardboard.”

Ninochka Zabelin : Petrograd, June 13, 1920
“I’ve just returned from Plyussy, from the Zabelins. I spent with them 3 days. Painted a small head of Ninochka, their oldest child.

Ivan Nikloevich Popov : Tula, August 5, 1920
”Am finishing up the work at Koltsov’s and am returning tomorrow to Alexin. I should have acted through Popov: I am hurrying to finish his portrait as he is leaving soon on his mission......The portrait is succeeding very well!”

Jewish Beauty : Nahichevan, September 10, 1920
"I’ve gotten an order to paint a Jewish beauty whose fiancé is in a position to pay well. How much I shall ask for it, in cash or provisions, has not yet been decided. I shall see her today and decide where and how to paint her.”

Girl Neighbor : Nahichevan, September 10, 1920
“We are beginning to become acclimated. Yesterday and today I have begun painting the portrait of a girl-neighbor for some provisions (kerosene), for not much: 40,000, according to the market hands have begun to itch without work.”

Lolya : Nahichevan, October 7, 1920
“Another significant event of the day: visit by the young lady Lolya, on my invitation to pose (she is one of the admirers of Sonya and Vera). She came with her friend Irochka Kedrova who has helped me much: when I asked her, how, she thinks, I should best paint Lolya, she answered: “in the nude”. And surely enough, Lolya turned out to be of rare beauty, and regardless of her younger age and great modesty, she was not at all embarrassed. The hour spent in studying the beauty of this model took me back to other time and other conditions of life!”

Victor Karlovich Stember, Self-Portrait : Nahichevan: October 13, 1920
“I remembered-for the information of my children-that in Petrograd, at the Kuindji Society, on Gogol Street, is my portrait, one of the most successful ones, painted during the last years of my residence in Petrograd, in 1918. It had been on exhibit in the Winter Palace and was left there with other paintings. The manager of paintings of the Kuindji Society, Venedict Pavlovich Kuznetsov, was charged to move the portrait from the Palace and to place it in the Society’s storage. The portrait is in an oak frame."

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